In my opinion the best firewood is oak - if it's seasoned. The reason is that as a kid growing up in Wisconsin I moved and stacked TONS of oak firewood with my Dad.
We harvested it from our land and used it to heat our home. All these years later (I'm 42 now) I got ahold of some oak here in Colorado (rarer) and was splitting it down to smaller sizes for the fireplace.
There was that smell, the smell referred to in the section on oak on your webpage. For me that smell now represents something from my youth, time well spent with my late Father. Maple and a few others are good too.
Thanks for taking the time to contribute your oak firewood memories. It's amazing how many memories are created as we process firewood and use it for heat.
We burn a lot of maple and beach firewood here in Michigan because they're by far the most prominent species on our property. However, every once in a while we purchase a state or federal land firewood permit and cut some firewood on the state or federal land near our house. Whenever we cut on the federal land we're always fortunate enough to find some red oak.
Nothing smells quite like oak firewood. Like you say, the smell is so distinct it will easily trigger a memory or two. Some people might not like the smell of oak firewood but I don't mind it at all. In fact, I think it kind of smells good.
You're right about only burning seasoned oak firewood. If you don't let the wood season, you'll have a poor experience with oak. Oak is a type of wood that seems to take longer than average to fully season.
I've found I have the best results if I let the wood season for two years instead of just one. That extra year seems have a big difference when your dealing with oak.
Thanks again for your contribution!
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